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The shearing the fun shows of the North

Waikato farmer Lee Cheyne isn’t going to let a few hundred kilometres stand between him and the chance to help boost the shearing competitions over the next few weeks.

It’s all about fun, he says, and while he won’t be at the Kaikohe show which kicks off the second annual ANZ Northland Shearing Competition on Saturday he says he will make the trip north for at least three of the other shows all of them at least two hours away – one close to four.

The competition among teams representing each of the shows in the north and aimed at boosting entries in the region, includes this Saturday’s Kaikohe Agricultural, Pastoral and Horticultural Show, the North Kaipara A and P Show at Paparoa on February 2, the Northern Wairoa A and P Show on February 9 at Arapohue, near Dargaville, the Counties Shears at the Franklin A and P Show on February 17, and the Kumeu Show on March 9.

The Warkworth show, having moved from late January to March 16 will become the first show of the 2020 competition.

New Zealand’s northernmost show, the North Hokianga show at Broadwood, takes place on February 16, but is not part of the teams competition.

Northland shows stalwart Neil Sidwell was rapt to see the impact of the new competition, which was established after it was realised more than 40 were taking part in the region’s shows each summer, but many doing no more than one or two.

One of the shows last summer had 38 entries, and he says: “We haven’t see that sort of number for many years.”

Cheyne, now 52, embodies the commitment of the greater number of competition shearers who help keep the numbers ticking over. He won’t be winning any big Open competition soon, and he’s unlikely to be winning enough to even cover the expenses of any of the big days out.

Last season he shore in the Senior class at five of the shows, almost none of which would have covered the expenses had he won.

He collared a series of minor placings, but does have a winning pedigree, the highlight of which he says was more than 25 years ago when he claimed the Warkworth Intermediate title and with it the trophy for the best quality points out of any of the finals, placing his name just beneath that of legendary David Fagan, who had won the show’s Open final the previous year.

He says shearing the competitions in the north “is a social event,” just as it was two years ago at Arapohue, when the shearing at the show was all but off because of the counter-attraction of the World championships in Invercargill.

He and father-in-law Ralph Smith stayed back and shore for the sake of a keen public. They had about 40 sheep, kept shearing until here were just about no more, but just enough Winston Peters to take part in a demonstration of cycle-powered shearing.

Cheyne is happy to help make up the numbers and says: “It’s laid back. You can be late, but still be on time.”


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